April Bass At Eufaula Isn’t All Sight-Fishing

This month, largemouths will be locked on the beds, but David Lowery won't be looking for those bass.

Drew Hall | April 1, 2009

Bass like this will be numerous and shallow this month on Eufaula as fish are in all stages of the spawn.

Lake Eufaula in April is all about the prespawn, spawn and postspawn, and it all starts at the south end of the lake and ends way up river. Anglers can chase big spawning fish all month long and still find them in most any pattern.

FLW Series angler David Lowery said it takes big bags to win Eufaula tourneys in April, and he’s good at filling them. David said Eufaula bass tournaments in April usually take 25 pounds to win.

Many anglers will be sight fishing for bass, but this style of fishing isn’t for David. He is quick to tell you that if you’re looking to find a few hawgs on bed and pester them all day, then you’re in the boat with the wrong angler. He doesn’t even like to wear sunglasses, because he doesn’t want to see them. He mostly sticks with prespawn fish that are moving up to bed and postspawn bass that are tired of bed sitting and want a quick snack.

David lives in Milledgeville, but he grew up in Columbus. He was 7 years old when he started fishing pot tournaments with his dad, Hilbert.

By the time he was 16, he was fishing the Red Man trail. Now David fishes the FLW Series and BFL Bulldog Division. He has been to the BFL All-American tournament three out of the past six years, including this year when he will travel to fish the Mississippi River out of Davenport, Iowa.

David took first place at Lake Murray in the BFL regional last year and won a Chevrolet truck and a Ranger bass boat. He promptly traded the Chevy for a new Toyota Tundra and is now a member of the Toyota Tundra Fishing Team. David is also making his second appearance in the Eliminator Series Final 4, something no other angler has ever done.

David works for his brother at Air Concepts of Middle Georgia, and says he’s fortunate to have a job where he can leave to fish whenever he needs to.

Since most of the Eufaula tournaments David fishes are out of Lakepoint Marina, we stayed around the north end of the lake on my day on the water with him. But, David did say if its early in the spawn you’ll probably have more action on the south end of the lake because the water warms a good bit faster than it does at the north end. The south end of the lake’s spawn will probably be over by mid April, but the north end, especially way up river, may not be completely over until late May or early June.

With more than 640 miles of shoreline to fish, there’s plenty of options for bedding fish to choose from. David said to look for backwater pockets, but if the water is really muddy, you’ll probably do better if you find some clearer water. He said the water could be anywhere from 1 to 4 feet deep and still be productive.

One thing David likes to look for are lily-pad stems, because lily pads typically grow on hard, sandy bottoms — which is great because bass typically bed on that kind of bottom. He said if you can find the lily-pad stems, you can generally find some good fish. He was right because the first good fish of our trip came off of a lily-pad-stem patch in about 3 feet of water. The fish sucked in a Zoom green-pumpkin lizard and fought hard to stay in the stems and break off before I lifted her in the boat for the first good fish of the day. I felt great catching the first keeper of the day, but my pride was short-lived as it was the only good bass I caught all day, and David continued to wear them out almost all day long.

David likes several baits in April. (From left) Big spinnerbaits allow him to search for cruising fish while the Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver allows him to flip or swim the bait to find cruising or resting fish. David also flips an All-Terrain Tackle jig into cover and swims it near potential spawning areas. He tries to match the color of the jig to whatever bait the bass are feeding on at the time.

David likes to flip a Texas-rigged Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver at the lily pads. He does all his fishing with Kistler rods, and he lets the fish tell him what he needs to throw and how to work it.

“I’m not going to sit out here and work a bait the way someone said you should just because it’s supposed to work. If they aren’t biting it one way, I’ll try something a little different,” he said.

His different techniques were apparent, because he sometimes flipped his baits and shook them a bit before he moved on to the next patch of cover. Then, he would sometimes swim the baits by the cover. When he found something that worked, he stuck to it.

The day David and I were at Lake Eufaula in mid-March, the fish weren’t into the spawning mode yet. He caught most of the fish swimming baits as a few early fish were cruising shallow. But, he said it’s really up to the fish what he’ll be doing, and it will be different every time.

Another bait David likes to use is an All-Terrain Tackle jig in either 5/16- or 1/4-oz. size, and he usually tips the jig with an All-Terrain or Zoom chunk. Bait color is based on what the bass are feeding on.

“If they are keying on bluegill, I’ll match my baits to that. But, if I think they are keying on crawfish, I’ll have a red-and-brown skirt with a similar color chunk. I just let the fish decide,” he said.

He said you want the jig to be heavy enough to get through the top of the cover but also light enough so you can swim it through the grass if you have to.

When David is fishing in thick cover, he generally uses 65-lb. Spiderwire braided line. He said he uses the heavy line so when he hooks them in the thick stuff he can pull them out without breaking off. Some of the cover David flips to is so heavy he can barely pull the fish through.

“One time I broke one off. It was so thick the bass just laid there on top of the grass flopping around,” he said.

That bass eventually got away, but David learned his lesson and now only uses heavy lines.

David said there are a lot of good places on the north end of the lake to start looking for spawning fish, and he said the Witch’s Ditch and any of the flats around the main lake are great places to start looking. He said generally the surface temperature will have to consistently stay above 60, close to 62 degrees, even at night, before the fish will try to spawn.

He suggested early in the spawn to fish the western shores because it receives the most sunlight and will warm up first. But, any side of the lake you fish is always going to warm up faster on the south end of the lake than the north.

If the flipping bite isn’t on, and he can’t get anything to hit a bait swimming it, David still has a few more options up his sleeve for prespawn and postspawn bass. He said most postspawn bass grow tired after spawning and sit under cover waiting for a meal they don’t have to chase down. David believes a frog is an easy meal.

Apparently the fish seem to think so, too. David said he was winning a lot of tournaments before most anglers figured out how good some of the frog baits on the market were working. He said just to cast it out over the grass, or whatever cover you are fishing near, and work it back until you reach the edge of the cover. He said sometimes they will come up through the grass, but a lot of times they’ll wait for it to get to the edge and hit it there.

He likes to use natural colors as much as possible: green, bullfrog and sometimes chartreuse. He said a lot of the companies make junior frogs that are smaller than average, but he gets the really big bites on the big frogs, and that’s what he likes to stick with. The key to frog fishing is to wait until they start to pull back on it. You can’t just set the hook immediately, he said.

“You’ll just snatch it out of their mouth if you set the hook fast on a frog,” he said.

He said the frog has to be one you can work slowly enough but still provide good action. If you work it too fast, you’re just going to take it away from the fish, he said.

When using frogs that come without hooks, David uses a 5/0 screw-in hook. He recommends Sizmic toads and a new frog made by Strikezone Lure Co. For frogs that come with hooks, he likes the 1/2-oz. Snag Proof Bobby’s Perfect Frog.

David said a buzzbait will sometimes have the same effect as a frog, and when he throws a 3/8-oz. buzzbait he likes to throw a custom-tied bait from Clay Jeans in Albany. At Eufaula, he prefers white and clear or white and chartreuse during April.

If the bass aren’t hitting the frogs, buzzbaits or the flipping bite, then David still has one more thing he likes to try, a big spinnerbait around the spawning shallows.

David prefers to sling a Bob Williams, of Milledgeville, custom-made spinnerbait, but he’ll also throw a Terminator. He said he lets the size of the shad dictate the size of the spinnerbait. Because the shad are very large at Eufaula, he likes a spinnerbait with big, double-willowleaf blades, one gold and one silver. For the skirt color, he likes either a white or white-and-chartreuse color. He usually tips his spinnerbait with a white Zoom twin-tail trailer and uses 3/0 or 4/0 Gamakatsu trailer hooks for short strikes.

But there’s also one more thing about April at Eufaula that the majority of anglers are going to be concerned with, and that’s the actual bedding fish. David said even though he doesn’t particularly sight fish for bedding fish, he goes where he knows they bed every year. He’ll stay back and make long casts to the areas. He’ll throw an All-Terrain Terrain Stick, similar to a Senko worm. He’ll also flip a Zoom 4-inch lizard in a black or white color with a 1/32- to 1/8-oz. weight. David likes a Gamakatsu 4/0, straight-shank hook on the Terrain Stick and a Gamakatsu 5/0, straight-shank on the lizard.

If you can’t catch them on Lake Eufaula in April now, you can’t blame David. He gave me all the advice anyone would ever need to catch some good fish during the spawn.

David wanted to thank HD Marine in Buford for getting him back on the water so soon after he blew an engine on West Point the weekend before our trip. We had to reschedule our trip for a week later, and they already had his boat ready to ride.

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